Hold onto your hats, because Facebook (the parent company that owns its namesake, Instagram and WhatsApp) acquired the GIF-sharing platform called Giphy. The platform is widely regarded as boasting the finest collection of GIFs on this thing we call the internet. Which, in itself, isn’t really all that important. But it does mean that things at Giphy are about to change. Most of all, we’re sad about the potential loss of integration with Twitter.
According to an Axios report, Facebook has coughed up $400 million for the platform, which it plans to integrate directly into Instagram now the deal is complete.
Before the acquisition, Giphy’s API had been part of the Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp ecosystem, but now Facebook owns all of that content. Apparently about 50% of all Giphy’s traffic was already driven from Facebook-owned apps, so the acquisition makes sense. It’ll now be integrated into Instagram Stories’ format, as it has been before, but with a more complete database.
“We’ve had a lot of fun teaming up with Instagram over the years; GIPHY’s Stickers were the perfect fit for layering on Instagram Stories, while our GIF search allowed everyone to capture that perfect emotion in Instagram’s DMs. Based on the success of those collaborations (and many others) we know that there are exciting times ahead of us,” Giphy detailed in a blog post.
For now, Facebook confirmed that Giphy’s integration with other apps will remain in place, so we’ll be able to comment GIF reactions on Tweets for the time being. The company confirmed it in a blog post following the acquisition. So for now, we can keep calm.
Did you have an account?
If you’re an avid GIFfer, you’ve probably invested in making a Giphy account and setting up your perfect algorithm. Having an account means your GIF history is saved and recommendations are made according to your GIF sense of humour. So, what will Facebook do with this new stream of your personal information? Valid question.
Facebook hasn’t the best track record when it comes to keeping user information safe. A rocky few years proved that we can’t really trust the firm with any personal data, and has prompted many to delete their profiles. Many of those users may have Giphy accounts, as Giphy’s security has been particularly trustworthy compared to how useless other tech firms have been.
Facebook’s access to user information at this scale (700 million Giphy accounts) is worrying. An article by Onezero gives us a grim picture of a future with Facebook-owned Giphy, saying “The acquisition will likely also benefit all of Facebook’s products—from Messenger to WhatsApp— by, among other things, giving Facebook access to vast data about how GIFs are used across thousands of apps.”
Humans use GIFs to communicate feelings that can’t necessarily be put into words, and understanding those trends across 700 million users will give Facebook even more insight into the public psyche. We don’t feel ready for that level of commitment with someone with Facebook’s track record, thank you very much.